Everyone enjoys a couch potato evening infront of the TV now and then. That zombie- mode-mental relief whilst programme after programme rolls by… wildlife… cookery… gardening… horror…quiz…sport.
Sport. All those people on your screen moving, training, playing, competing, spectating, encouraging, interacting and celebrating. Great overview of it all from your sofa; no need to get involved.
But what if you did get involved?
The physical benefits of team sports are well-documented. Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And what better way to exercise than by playing a sport you enjoy? When you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it – and that’s when the real benefits start to show. (https://athleticsweekly.com/aw-promotion/the-many-benefits-of-getting-involved-in-team-sports-1039958472/)
The health benefits are well-documented… but all this promotional health jargon can be a bit overwhelming. Even committed athletes don’t always want to be thinking about heart rate and cholesterol control. The beginning, middle and end of sport should, surely, also always have an element of fun.
Finding fun through team sports, can literally change lives for the better. It could change your life for the better. Whether you are usually a solo couch potato, student away from home, new kid on the block, individual advanced athlete, deskbound office worker, active eighty-year old or in a mid-life muddle – there is a team out there waiting for you to join them to join in and have some fun.
For example, as a student, one of the best ways to stay healthy, fit, and socially stimulated is to begin participating in a team sport. Having a go at team sport can boost self-confidence, awareness of respect, development of willpower, learning perseverance, appreciation of fair play, practising social skills and creating strong relationships (https://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/guest-blogs/34161/six-advantages-of-team-sports-for-students/).
Studies have shown a direct correlation between physical activity and academic performance. This might have to do with the increased cognitive ability that comes from playing sports. Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain and activates endorphins, chemicals that are released when you exercise (https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/social-and-academic-benefits-team-sports).
Infact, there are so many aspects of your life and skills, whatever your current circumstances, that can get better by joining in with some team sport at your own level. You may be quite a solitary introvert by nature but a little teamwork, maybe on a weekly basis, can keep your social skills and friendship opportunities ticking over in a healthy and non-invasive way. After all, every team is made up of individuals and every individual has something they can offer the team. Being part of the team could even reveal skills and talents you did not even know you had!
Team sport participation can help you to retrain your organisational skills
Or, how about if you are a bit ditsy when it comes to time management? Team sport participation can help you to retrain your organisational skills without you even realising it is happening! You would need to get to training on time, plan ahead to schedule when you are free to play, sort your lifestyle events out so that your sport, work, play and sleep patterns complement not clash. You may also have to keep an eye on the clock or stopwatch whilst actually doing your chosen sport to optimise the team’s chances of success.
Then there is the stress relief we all need in our busy, pressurised, modern lives. It’s soooo easy to have a bad day, feel depressed or fed up and let that continue into the evening or your other commitments. No. Joining your team for some training, practice match or even just a social can be ultra-effective at snapping you out of the doldrums and giving you a different perspective. ‘Endorphins can impact your mood and work performance, meaning athletes may be more willing and capable of tackling that next big problem. Exercise can lead to a unique state of short-term relaxation.’ (https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/social-and-academic-benefits-team-sports).
What is more, when you do have to go back to sort out your stressy situation or environment, you may be able to handle it all much more effectively because of that break and relief you gained from your team sport and fellow players. ‘That relaxation can promote increased concentration, better memory, enhanced creativity, more effective problem solving, and an improved mood.’
It could even be that it is you who is the one helping another team mate to deal with tricky circumstances! Then, not only are you benefitting from the physical activity of the sport and social interaction but you have the satisfaction of organically mentoring and helping someone else, establishing yourself as a role model and boosting your own confidence, self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
Finally, it might be that the term ‘team sport’ only conjures up images of Football, Hockey, Cricket and Netball for you and they just aren’t your ‘thing’. This may be the sort of sport that you only see on your TV or, worse, you remember with horror from bad experiences during your school days.
But, wait a minute! Let’s have some fun with the team sport ideas and stretch that imagination a little… you too could be in a Bobsleigh, leaping around Cheerleading, gracefully Swimming in synchrony, channelling your inner Oxbridge in a Rowing boat, enjoying the splash of Water Polo, whizzing that Frisbee, impressive balancing in Unicycle Hockey, or playing it chill in Walking Basketball.
Every team is made up of individuals. You need your team and they need you.